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Hannah BennettAt Thompsons we deal with hundreds of cases of people who have been exposed to asbestos and have suffered the harrowing consequences of an asbestos related illness. As a solicitor these cases are particularly difficult to deal with due to the impacts the illness and in many cases, ultimately death, can have on the victims and their families.

I found the recent news that a nursery class had been exposed to asbestos extremely upsetting and find it hard to believe that in this day and age the dangers surrounding asbestos exposure are not being taken seriously. It shouldn’t matter whether it is an adult or a child who is exposed but perhaps it’s been the shocking news surrounding the Sandy Hook shootings which is making us more sensitive to the thought of children suffering unnecessarily.

In this case Staffordshire County Council and a firm named G Evans (Services) Ltd exposed a nursery class, school staff and two joiners to asbestos fibres. Both the council and the building firm were fined for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

A refurbishment was taking placer at Glenthorne Community Primary School in 2009. Two joiners were working on a large cupboard when then discovered an unidentified material at the back. The joiners reported the unidentified material to their manager but were told to carry on dismantling the cupboard. The unidentified material was asbestos. An analyst noticed the asbestos in a skip and the school was closed immediately so an investigation could be carried out.

Before the asbestos was noticed by the analyst the joiners had used a vacuum cleaner to clean up the dust from the cupboard which would have spread the asbestos fibres in the air.

The investigation that followed identified that the council did not carry out a pre refurbishment asbestos survey of the area where the incident occurred. Furthermore the building firm had failed to take steps to identify the asbestos board when it was discovered.

There was a clear lack of planning regarding the refurbishment, which lead to the nursery class, teachers and joiners being unnecessarily exposed to asbestos.  

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